Is there ever any end to the comparisons between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi?
Two of football’s greatest ever players, destined to be placed alongside each other for the rest of their lives irrespective of when they retire.
At 24-years-old, the 68-cap Argentine international has slightly more time on his side than Ronaldo, who is still only 27 despite a decade at the highest level with Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Perhaps that’s a factor not to be forgotten when comparing these two great players – Ronaldo has produced quality for three different teams, in three different countries with three different styles of play.
Messi fans would counter by saying he’s smashed records at one of world football’s greatest ever clubs since making his debut back in 2004. Why would he want to leave the Nou Camp?
I digress from the point. Or do I? Ronaldo himself admits that the comparisons are starting to get on his nerves, and that you simply can’t compare ‘a Porsche and a Ferrari’ because they are completely different beasts.
"Sometimes it makes me tired. For him too, because they compare us together all the time.” Ronaldo told CNN World Sport.
“You cannot compare a Ferrari with a Porsche because it's a different engine. You cannot compare them. He does the best things for Barcelona, I do the best things for Madrid, so everyone says.
"It's incredible. Just for him and for me because we beat our own record, so it's amazing. I think we push each other sometimes in the competition, this is why the competition is so high. This is why Madrid and Barcelona are the best teams in the world because everyone pushes each other.”
Whilst there is little hard evidence to prove the theory, it’s accepted that Ronaldo has been able to get the very best out of Messi in an entire season, and Messi the best out of Ronaldo.
Their battle for the golden boot in La Liga this term has been something of a distraction from the title race, although Messi would happily swap his Pichichi trophy for another league winners medal.
After all, it is a team game. And, for that reason, Ronaldo clearly believes he is currently the King of Spain.
"It's not about who is better. I just don't like to be compared with anybody. Some people say I'm better, other people say it's him, but at the end of the day, they're going to decide who is the best player at the moment, which I think is me."
He said it with a smile, but of course Ronaldo knew his comments would make headlines across the world. Don’t compare us, but I’m better.
Any great sportsman must have a touch of arrogance, that incredible self-belief that makes a player believe they are the very best, untouchable on their night and able to make the big difference when it really matters.
That’s something Ronaldo achieved this season, scoring 46 goals in 38 games and picking up 12 assists along the way. Messi had 50 goals in 37 games, with 15 assists to his name.
Who has the better supporting cast? Recent history would suggest Barcelona, who won three consecutive titles and have a team packed full of Spanish internationals, who helped win the 2008 European Championships and 2010 World Cup.
It’s not like Madrid are struggling mind you, with the likes of Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Kaka and Angel Di Maria in their ranks.
Managers? You could toss a coin over Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, two contrasting figures who do things differently but get results. This season, it was ‘the special one’ who won the day, and the former Spanish midfielder who called it quits.
What all these extra facts tell us is that Real Madrid and Barcelona, like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are extremely well matched. They are different in so many ways, but the same in what they want to achieve.
That’s why it’s impossible to not compare the two players, and the fact that the Portuguese winger has come out and said he’s the best this year only adds fuel to the fire.
The fact he might be right is irrelevant, because it’s not his opinion that matters. It seems like you either love Messi or love Ronaldo. Very few people sit on the fence when it comes to this rivalry – a lot like the two teams they play for.
In reality, it doesn’t matter who is the best. As long as they keep bringing the absolute maximum out of each other, then we’ll always been in for a treat. Bring on next season in Spain.
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